Garth Brooks' Half-Sister and Bandmate Betsy Smittle Dies

Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 01:49 PM

By David Ogul

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Betsy Smittle, the half-sister and bandmate of country star Garth Brooks, has passed away, and many across the Web are extending their condolences to the famous country singer.

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Smittle died Saturday at the age of 60, according to a report from Oklahoma City’s News 9.

A bass player who toured with Brooks for years and released a solo album of her own titled “Rough Around the Edges,” Smittle was a lesbian who advocated for gay rights and performed in gay pride events throughout the state.

In an interview with Barbara Walters in 1993, Brooks talked about his sister’s sexuality, saying, “Where the gay issue has hit me the most is my sister. I’ve lived with that forever. And the thing is, the longer you live with it, the more you realize that it’s just another form of people loving one another.”

In the comments section of the News 9 story, Juneko Rau Louvin wrote, “I’m truly sorry to Betsy’s family. I met her at the Opry and she was so super nice like her brother. So sad and truly too young.”

Joanne Carel wrote, “I remember Betsy playing in a middle school talent contest. Couldn’t believe her voice!”

Smittle performed on Brooks’ 1991 debut album “Ropin’ the Wind,” in addition to several later releases. CMT said Smittle’s inspiration for music came from her mother, the late Colleen Carroll, a country singer who married musician Jim Smittle. The couple later divorced, and Carroll married Troyal Raymond Brooks.

A cause of death was not immediately released, and funeral arrangements are pending.

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